Photo and article from Laieke Abebe
Spring Creek fell into a deep hole that the Gators could not dig out of in their first conference game of the season.
The Gators’ offense could not get out of the gate early in a 28-6 loss to North Johnston in Kenly on Friday evening. For Daniel Robinson’s squad, it’s back to the drawing board despite having chances to make it a game late.
“Our game plan and execution was poor especially in the first half,” Robinson said. “We made a few adjustments in the second half and moved a few players to different positions after some injuries. We’re going to lick our wounds and see what’s best for us going forward.”
Things started well for the Gators (3-2 overall, 0-1 NSC) after recovering an onside kick to start the game. However, the Gators would go backwards from there and eventually turn the ball over on downs.
North Johnston (1-5, 1-0) would get a short field and find the end zone on its first possession. Cooper Gipson’s one-yard touchdown plunge put the Gators down early.
On their next possession, the Gators would once again turn the ball over on downs this time inside their own 10-yard line. The Panthers would take advantage with Gipson converting a fourth-and-goal to get another one-yard score.
Spring Creek’s defense would tighten up on the next two North Johnston possessions forcing a punt and turnover on downs. However, the offense couldn’t get anything going to get the Gators back in the contest.
Aided by a couple of Gator penalties, the Panthers would get another touchdown with two minutes left in the first half after Michael Linko found his way into the end zone. Down 21-0 at the break, it didn’t get any better for Spring Creek to start the second half.
Freshman quarterback Giovann Pineda threw an interception putting the Panthers back in business. However, the Gators would get it right back with a fumble recovery on the ensuing drive.
This would lead to Spring Creek’s best offensive possession of the game up to that point. A drive that took over eight minutes and got all the way down to the Panthers’ one-yard line came down to fourth and goal.
The Gators were unable to punch it in with a quarterback sneak, and they were still scoreless.
North Johnston would turn around and go on an 11-play, 99-yard touchdown drive to officially seal the deal for their first win of the season.
Pineda did make sure Spring Creek didn’t get shut out with a touchdown pass to King Faison in the final minutes, but it was too late.
“We’ve got to be tougher going forward,” Robinson said. “North Johnston was more physical than we were in the first half. We also can’t get down by three scores early in games with the type of offense we run.”
Spring Creek will host Eastern Wayne (4-2, 0-1) in another Neuse Six 2A Conference matchup on Oct. 8.